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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

Two Poems
by Marc Pietrzykowski ||
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Poor baby, lolling in a carriage
          trying to separate color,
When they come scuttling in from everywhere,
Looming like a skyline, then
     bending as one, a chorus
          of coochie-coos
               peeling out
From those pulled taught death-masks,
eyes empty all the way to skulls' back--
This is why, when I see baby,
          I point and yell:
     go back! you fool! go back! but only
To bother mother, and father too,
     those paunchy gatherings of flesh intent on cluttering up my space
     with more hands and feet and little round heads,
The ones wearing phones and an orchard of numbers:
                         the nursery school.
               the flash card outlet mall.
          the personal trainer, his and hers.
     rocketship reservations.
The ones who care enough
To stuff a childhood into babies' maw hour by crucial hour
     yet still dream of teeth
          falling from the sky.
Poor baby. Your daddy and your mommy whisper their secrets,
And already green is rising from between
     red and black and white. Soon
          you will even have a word for it,
               and then another,
Until nothing matters but a baby of your own,
          and then the babies will become children,
And the children will come like water,
     spilling out of hospitals
          and schools
               and choir practice
     with a sedentary gleam
About the eyes, in malls
     and abandoned railcars
          and on camera,
Always on camera shrieking
     or sullen,
Obese, swelling
     with glandular fury, starved for grain
And affection.
          rivers of children. Poor,
Poor baby. Beware
     those that touch, and beware, always,
           the coochie-coo.
On the Fermentation Of Grains And Other Things

Vodka. I'll tell you why the men
Sleep in their boats, womenless men
Whose pillows buoy the spot: the dreamed
Spot: I'll tell you: vodka made
Their houses come down before ever a timber was laid.
There was a time daffodils and fruit-drowned cakes seemed
To bow beneath them, the men
With boyish lips pouting, now each a sot
And sea-ridden. Womenless, cloying, sweet at the core
In the worst of ways. The women, less from some kinder lot
Than of fogs, never tell: there is no ocean anymore,
There is no river, not
Even the little water, not
A single drop. But in their cups the men persist
In a drunkenness untouched by drink
While the women mutter and brandish Christ
At the docks. There is no vodka, what you feel
Is a dream
--but even as the voice cracks, the words
Enveloped by steam rising from a break in the real,
They wake, stomp across the deck, herds
Of men come occupy the earth or else to feel
The hatred of a drunk woken mid-dream;
They stray amongst mists that touch
The hairs, the forearm, the need for a numb
And raging love--each would become
The sum-total of oceans: always clutch
Your brother like salt to the tongue: and if what comes
To greet you is you, then, by god, you've made a match.
Not that it matters; what comes
To fetch you at last will not invite itself in,
All told; your womenlessness gone, manlessness
Disappeared, success
Masquerading as a good night's sleep, it lifts the latch,
(A way of lifting), stands moist and, shaking,
To count the liars, start them waking:
Vodka. Christ. Motion. Love in the way of simple towns.
Make yourself comfortable, it says, thrash about.
Dignity is how clowns
Reproduce, so let out
Your melon bursting biceps, your hair-shroud,
Your face and dimples and eyes like a thirst;
Make the universe something proud.
Of course
You'd rather die a drunk, or a monk, or are they two;
Of course
You've found water. Unless
You've already been dispersed,
               and promise to return as dew.

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